The Academy Awards’ Love Affair with Biopics Is Good News for Eddie Redmayne
Eddie Redmayne has set himself on a trajectory for an Academy Award next year or at least a nomination. The 32-year-old actor takes on the challenging role of cosmologist Stephen Hawkings in the movie The Theory of Everything. In it, he depicts the slow and painful deterioration of Hawking’s body due to Lou Gehrig’s disease. Redmayne spent months researching the scientist’s advancing paralysis and mapping out the changes in his muscular abilities so he would be able to portray what was happening at any specific point in time. He also employed a dancer and vocal coach to help him learn to manipulate his body.
While Redmayne puts in an incredible performance in the movie, it doesn’t hurt that Oscar has had a love affair with biopics for the last decade.
Daniel Day-Lewis took home the Best Actor award for his 2011 portrayal of American President Abraham Lincoln during the turbulent years of the Civil War. Day-Lewis brought an outstanding performance to the big screen in the movie Lincoln.
While Brad Pitt didn’t bring home an award, he was nominated as a Best Actor at the 84th Oscars for his portrayal of Billy Beane, the legendary general manager of the Oakland Athletics, in the movie Moneyball.
In 2010, three actors in biopics were nominated for Best Actor. James Franco won a nomination for his role as Aron Ralston in the movie 127 Hours. Ralston had to cut off his own arm after it was caught between two rocks while he was hiking in southern Utah. Jesse Eisenberg played Facebook creator Mark Zuckerburg in the movie The Social Network. Colin Firth took home an Academy Award that year for his portrayal of King George VI in the movie The Kings Speech.
At the 82nd Academy Awards, Morgan Freeman was nominated for his role as Nelson Mandela in the movie Invictus. In 2008, Mickey Rourke was nominated for playing wrestling entertainer Randy “The Ram” Robinson in the movie The Wrestler. That same year, Frank Langella was nominated for his role as Richard Nixon in the film Frost/Nixon. However is was Sean Penn who took home the hardware for his role in the movie Milk as Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California.
Forest Whitaker won best actor for his portrayal of Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. That same year Will Smith was nominated for his role as Chris Gardner in the movie The Pursuit of Happyness.
In 2005 David Strathairn played Edward R. Murrow in Good Night, and Good Luck. He was nominated for a Best Actor award along with Joaquin Phoenix who played Johnny Cash in the movie Walk the Line. But it was Philip Seymour Hoffman who took home the award for his role as Truman Copote in the movie Capote.
At the 77th Oscars, Leonardo DiCaprio was nominated for his role as Howard Hughes in The Aviator, Johnny Depp for his role as J.M. Barrie in Finding Neverland and Don Cheadle for his part as Paul Rusesabagina in Hotel Rwanda. But Jamie Foxx won the category with his performance as Ray Charles in the film Ray.
Biopics have been popular in the Best Actress category this past decade as well. Judy Dench (Philomena and Mrs. Henderson Presents), Naomi Watts (The Impossible), Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn), Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia and The Devil Wears Prada), Carey Mulligan (An Education), Helen Mirren (The Last Station), Angelina Jolie (The Changling) and Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age) all received Academy Award nominations for playing real characters.
Reese Witherspoon won the award in 2005 for her role as June Carter in Walk the Line. Helen Mirren took home Oscar in 2006 for her role as Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen. Marion Cotillard won a statuette for her role as Édith Piaf, the French cabaret singer, in the movie La Vie en Rose.
In 2009 Sandra Bullock won for portraying American interior designer Leigh Anne Tuohy in the movie The Blind Side and Meryl Streep won in 2011 for her depiction of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.